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Lucia happy with Gophers start in WCHA

  • Blog Post by: Roman Augustoviz
  • November 21, 2011 - 10:14 AM

Gophers coach Don Lucia tried to give St. Cloud State a little credit for upsetting his No. 1-rated team 4-3  on Friday.

"They are a good team, too," Lucia said. "It is not an easy place to play. They have not lost at their home this year (3-0-2).

"Two things were really disappointing for me [Friday] night. We had 10 odd-man rushes and we didn't get a shot on goal. You have to execute a little bit, too. And the other thing is just the colossal mistakes we made [defensively] to give up the tap-ins. 

"Again we learned from it and guys responded. And we played well at home [Saturday]."

The Gophers won the second game 5-0.

"We just went through a tough stretch, seven of 10 in the league on the road," Lucia said. "To come out of that with an 8-2 record is pretty darn good."

The Gophers are 11-3 overall.

THE DON SAYS

* On Erik Haula, who had two assists on Saturday: "He hit a pipe on [Friday] and he hit one or two [Saturday]. It is getting close for him. He just needs that one [goal] to get him going again."

* On lineup changes, including moving freshman Travis Boyd up from the fourth to the second line: "We wanted to give Travis Boyd a little bit more ice time. I'm not sure what we did with the lines mattered because of execution. But we just wanted to shake things up a little bit. Now we have two nonconference games next weekend [at Michigan State]. Maybe we will do a little experimenting next week."

* On freshman forward Seth Ambroz not scoring much: "He is doing some other things, blocking shots. And his wall play is really good. His net presence is really good. He needs to get going just for confidence's sake, but it will happen."  

* On the Gophers' home schedule: "When we get back after Thanksgiving, we only have seven more road games. We have done our job so far on the road early in the year." All seven of those away games left will be in the WCHA.

Here is how the Gophers schedule breaks down, starting with next month:

December: six home games

January: four home games, three road games

February: two home games, four road games

March: two home games

Totals: 14 home games, seven road games

PULLING AHEAD

The Gophers and Minnesota Duluth have separated themselves a bit from the other WCHA teams, 10 games into the 28-game conference schedule. The Gophers are 8-2-0 for 16 points and a one-point lead over the Bulldogs, second at 7-2-1 for 15 points.

Back in third place is Nebraska Omaha, three points behind UMD with a 5-3-2 record for 12 points.

Preseason favorites Denver and Colorado College are back in the pack, although DU had played only nine WCHA games and CC just seven. The Pioneers are 4-2-3 for 11 points, which ties them for fourth; CC is 5-2-0 for 10 points, which puts the Tigers in sixth.

The schedule this week has only three WCHA series:

WCHA

* St. Cloud State at Nebraska Omaha. Unusual Saturday-Sunday series. UNO could tie Gophers for first place with a sweep.

* Colorado College at North Dakota. CC, with its high-powered offense, could gain on two leaders with a big weekend. Fighting Sioux are mired in a tie for 10th with Minnesota State Mankato.

* Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota State Mankato. Seawolves are 12th in conference, Mavericks are tied for 10th. Battle to stay out of cellar.

Non-conference

* Gophers at Michigan State. Two future Big Ten Conference foes.

* Princeton at Denver on Friday and Miami at Denver on Saturday in Denver Cup.

* Michigan Tech at St. Lawrence. Huskies are a much better team at home.

* Mercyhurst at Wisconsin. Badgers are only 5-8-1 overall. Mercyhurst is in first place in Atlantic Hockey but has a 6-5-1 overall mark.              

SECOND NINE-WIN WEEK

Week 7 was my second best week of the season. Only complete miss was predicting the Gophers would sweep St. Cloud State. They lost the first game 4-3 at the National Hockey Center despite outshooting the home team by more than two-to-one.

Also picked a split between Denver and Nebraska Omaha and they tied one game. Picked Bemidji State to tie one game with North Dakota. Beavers beat Fighting Sioux 1-0 on Sunday. 

Tracking predictions"

Week 1   Did not pick games; still covering Lynx run to WNBA title.

Week 2   9 - 7-1/2 - 1/2

Week 3    8 - 3-1/2 - 1/2                                                                                                                                                                

Week 4   7 - 3-1/2 - 1-1/2

Week 5   8 - 3 - 1

Week 6   7 - 1 - 1

Week 7    9 - 2  - 1

Week 8    ?    ?   ?

Totals     48 - 20-1/2 - 5-1/2  for winning percentage of 68.6. percent

 

 

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